For Written Answer on : 09/02/2023
Question Number(s): 156 Question Reference(s): 6203/23
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Education the current situation with regard to the availability of suitably trained persons to teach home economics in second level schools; if her attention has been drawn to research or surveys by teacher unions or the Teaching Council on the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Under the Teaching Council Acts 2021-2015, the Teaching Council is the body with the statutory authority and responsibility for the regulation of the teaching profession in Ireland including the registration of teachers in the State. Outside limited and exceptional circumstances permitted under Ministerial regulations, a person employed as a teacher in a recognised school must be registered to be paid from monies provided by the Oireachtas.
In 2022 81 teachers of home economics registered with Council, bringing the total number of registered home economics teachers to over 1,950 (as of November 2022).
My Department is aware of surveys by the teacher unions in regard to the recruitment of teachers.
The recruitment of teachers is a priority area of action for the Department given the importance of ensuring that every child’s experience in school is positive and that they have available to them qualified, engaged and supportive teachers to support them in their learning.
My Department is undertaking a comprehensive programme to support the supply of teachers. Officials engage closely with school management bodies and other education stakeholders to inform this work.
To meet longer-term teacher demand, higher education institutions have developed new 4 year initial teacher education programmes in a number of post-primary priority subject areas, including Irish, mathematics, computer science, modern foreign languages and home economics.
In addition, my Department fully funds post primary teachers to participate in upskilling programmes in mathematics, physics and Spanish. The first cohort of participants, approximately 170 teachers, completed these programmes in 2022 and more than 300 teachers are due to graduate in 2023. It is also intended to commence an upskilling programme in Irish in 2023/24 and consideration will be given to expanding the programmes to other priority subject areas.
My Department has also introduced a scheme to allow post-primary schools to share teachers, the aim of which is to recruit teachers in high-demand subjects, such as home economics, and give teachers a full-time teaching contract. Schools are strongly urged to explore this option as a means of supporting teacher recruitment.
In addition, at post-primary level until the end of the current school year, teachers may teach additional hours in their subject area over the usual 22-hour limit, up to a maximum of 35 additional hours per term.
These measures are underpinned by the Teaching Transforms campaign which promotes the teaching profession and encourages students to follow a career in teaching. The campaign is supported by the dedicated webpage on gov.ie.
It is acknowledged that work remains to be done to address teacher supply challenges. The Department continues to work closely and intensively with stakeholders to develop and implement creative solutions to address the teacher supply challenges for schools.